Change of pace: Rim Rock Marathon unveils new divisions for this year’s race

D Plunkett had always wanted to run a marathon.

When the Rim Rock Run became the Rim Rock Marathon last year, she signed up.

The Grand Junction 46-year-old, though, was diagnosed with May-Thurner syndrome in her left leg. The condition is when a vein in the hip is compressed by an artery, partially or completely blocking blood flow to the leg.

“I’m limited to how fast and how far I can run,” Plunkett said. “It’s highly unlikely I’ll be able to run a marathon.”

This year, she will get a chance to run in the Rim Rock Marathon in a new division for relay teams. With the permission of Colorado National Monument, 10 relay teams will participate at 8 a.m. on Saturday when the race begins at the east entrance in the Rim Rock Marathon.

There are 240 participants registered in the Rim Rock Marathon. There were 230 registered last year, but only 186 participated, mostly because of snow and wet conditions.

“I was grateful when they came up with the relay,” Plunkett said. “It was hard to get runners to commit early. It took me right up to deadline to get my pals to commit.”

The relay teams can have two, three or four members running whatever legs of the relay they prefer. The relay will be split into four legs and the team members must make the switch at one of the three designated stops along the route by exchanging a timing chip.

The first exchange area is 6.8 miles into the race at the Red Canyon Overlook aid station. The second one is halfway at the Liberty Cap parking lot (13.1 miles). The third relay point is at the Visitors Center on the west side (19.6 miles).

“There are other marathons out there that showcase a relay option,” Race Director Chris Reed said. “It’s a great option for folks to be involved in a long-distance race, but not have to complete the 26.2 (miles).

“It’s good camaraderie, something they can do with their friends and get a chance to get up on the monument, which we believe is one of the most scenic marathons in the country.

“We’ve already received a lot of feedback from people saying I’m just not ready to compete in a full marathon yet, but a relay is a good building block for me.”

Teri Shecter of Grand Junction arranged a relay team with her Mesa County Probation Department co-workers and took it a step further, challenging the district attorney’s office.

“This works out perfectly for our new runners that wanted to do something as a group,” Shecter said. “It’s a great way to introduce people to running.”

Plunkett will run the fourth and final leg to the finish line for her team. Nan Keith Fratef will run the first leg, followed by Tom Ela and Elizabeth Schnittker.

“We are all looking forward to it,” Plunkett said. “I’m not sure if Tom has run a road marathon. It never occurred to him to run the Rim Rock Marathon.

“People have been very supportive of me while I was going through depression (after her diagnosis). I’m expecting it to be incredibly emotional.”


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